NHL cancels another week of games

NEW YORK — The NHL wiped out the third week of the regular season Friday as the lockout dragged on, leaving no more wiggle room if the league hopes to play a full 82-game schedule.

A day after the league turned down three counterproposals from players for a collective bargaining agreement, it canceled 53 more games through Nov. 1. A total of 135 games have been scratched, which amounts to 11 percent of the season.

The Lightning lost four more games: Oct. 25 at Calgary, Oct. 26 at Edmonton, Oct. 28 at Vancouver and Nov. 1 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum against the Jets.

Two weeks ago the league called off the season's first two weeks, from Oct. 11-24. The latest move was expected after Thursday's labor talks ended with both sides saying publicly they were no closer to an agreement. Commissioner Gary Bettman said things might even have taken a step backward.

The league is sticking to its most recent proposal, made Tuesday, that offered the players a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue and ensured a full regular-season schedule if the season begins by Nov. 2. A deal must be reached by Thursday for that to happen, the league said.

Missed games would be inserted into the calendar, and the schedule would be extended about two weeks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Two days after the league made its offer, the union presented three counterproposals in a meeting that included its executive director, Donald Fehr, 18 players, Bettman and four owners. Bettman and the owners dismissed all three in 10 minutes, the union said, and talks ended after an hour.

Two of the union's proposals have the players taking a fixed amount of revenue, which would turn into an approximate 50-50 split over the five years of the deal, provided league revenue continues to grow. The third approach is a 50-50 split, as long as the league honors all existing contracts at full value.

No more talks were scheduled but could resume this weekend, the Los Angeles Times said. The sides communicated via email Friday, Canada's Rogers Sportsnet reported.

If Thursday's deadline passes without an agreement, more games will likely be cut, and the cuts will be significant, ESPN reported. That could mean the New Year's Day Winter Classic is in danger of being lost. The Red Wings and Maple Leafs are scheduled to play the annual outdoor game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

The sides did agree on something Friday: the amount of escrow to be paid to players this month based on last season's revenue. Each player will get a refund of 7.98 percent of last season's contracted pay, short of the 8.5 percent withheld before the season.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

NHL cancels another week of games 10/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 1:32am]

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